Jeremy Hunt has revealed he is reversing “almost all” of the tax cuts announced in his predecessor’s mini-budget and is scaling back support on energy bills.
The chancellor, who only stepped into the job on Friday, said a 1p cut to income tax will be delayed “indefinitely” until the UK’s finances improve instead of being introduced in April 2023 as announced in Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget three weeks ago.
Mr Hunt said the government’s energy price guarantee will only be universal until April – not for two years as originally planned.
After April, the scheme will be more targeted following a review into how to support people’s energy bills from that time, he said.
“The government has today decided to make further changes to the mini-budget, and to reduce unhelpful speculation about what they are, we’ve decided to announce these ahead of the medium-term fiscal plan, which happens in two weeks,” Mr Hunt said.
He said the government was reversing “almost all” the tax measures announced in the mini-budget that have not yet started going through parliament.
Mr Hunt promised: “The objective is to design a new approach that will cost the taxpayer significantly less than planned, whilst ensuring enough support for those in need.
“Any support for businesses will be targeted to those most affected and the new approach will better incentivise energy efficiency.
“The most important objective for our country right now is stability.”
Widely seen as the most powerful person in government now, Mr Hunt added that there will be “more difficult decisions” on tax and spending” and said all government departments “will need to redouble their efforts to find savings, and some areas of spending will need to be cut”.
Over the weekend, Mr Hunt promised to slow down Ms Truss’ tax cuts and said “some taxes will go up” as he worked on tearing up the mini-budget that has caused weeks of economic turmoil.
His comments were welcomed by the Bank of England’s governor, Andrew Bailey, who said there had been an “immediate meeting of minds on the importance of stability and sustainability” when he spoke to Mr Hunt on Friday.
The decision for Mr Hunt to make a statement on Monday was made after meetings between the chancellor, Ms Truss, Mr Bailey and the head of the Debt Management Office on Sunday night.